Top 5 Car Maintenance Tips for the Summer

Summer is here and that means road trips and warm weather – two things that can have a big impact on your vehicle’s performance.

Want to avoid car repairs and enjoy smooth, hassle-free performance? Follow these simple summer car maintenance tips!

5) Be smart about tire pressure

When people think of car maintenance, they don’t always think about their tires.

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That’s a bad idea – your tires keep you on the road and have a huge impact on vehicle performance and mileage.

An under-inflated tire will bulge outward and put pressure on your sidewall – which can cause serious tire problems and eventually cause your tire to blow. At the same time, an over-inflated tire will have fewer contact points with the road – which can cause you to slide off the road in wet or slippery conditions. Check your recommended tire pressure in your owner’s manual.

Then, make sure your tire’s actual pressure matches that number. For that reason, you need to check your tire pressure regularly. During the summer, hot temperatures cause your tire pressure to change during the day. Every 10 degree increase in temperature can increase tire pressure by about one to two pounds per square inch (PSI). At night, when temperatures cool off, the same phenomenon can cause your tire pressure to drop by one to two PSI.

4) Check your tire tread using the ‘penny trick’

You already know why tires are important. Tire tread is just as important as tire pressure. Over time, the tread of your tires will wear down until they need to be replaced.

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Checking tire tread isn’t an exact science. However, one of the best tire tread tips is to use the “penny trick”. The penny trick involves taking a penny and sticking into the tread of your tire. If Lincoln’s head disappears, then your tires are okay.

Place the penny in several places around your tire to ensure tread depth is consistent throughout.

Ideally, you want a portion of Lincoln’s head to always be covered by the tire’s tread. If any part of the head is covered, you have at least 1/16” of tread depth remaining on your tire.

In many states, it’s illegal to drive with less than 1/16” of tread depth. Fortunately, many tires have wear indicators which become exposed once you’re nearing this limit. Check your tires for these wear indicators to determine if it’s time to get a new set of tires.

3) Build an emergency road kit

Emergency road kits are an important part of winter driving. However, summer driving also has its own unique hazards.

If you get stopped on the road in 110 degree heat in July or August, it doesn’t take long for you or your car to overheat. Sometimes, you’ll get stopped due to an accident on the road ahead. In other cases, there’s long construction waits, or your vehicle may break down.

A good summer emergency road kit includes the following:

3-Non-perishable food items

-Bottles of water

-Charged up cell phone (powered off until you need to use it)

-First aid kit

-Jackets and blankets

-Jumper cables

-Emergency cones

Obviously, summer emergency kits are similar to winter emergency kits. Create a year-round emergency kit and place it in your trunk. Swap out extra food, blankets, and food as needed. You may never need to use your emergency kit, but in certain situations, it could be the difference between life and death.

2) Learn how to check your oil and know when to change it

Without oil, your car isn’t going to get very far. On most vehicles, oil changes are recommended every 7,500 miles (about 12,000 kilometers). If you talk to oil specialists, however, they may recommend changing your oil more frequently – like every 3,000 to 5,000 kilometers or every 3 months.

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Wondering when to change your oil? Check your dipstick. First, run your car for a few minutes and then park it on a level surface where you can access the hood.

Pop the hood, locate the oil dipstick, and look for two things: the level of the oil and the appearance of the oil. If you’re low on oil, you can simply top it up. Ideally, your oil will be a brownish-yellow color and be clean on the stick without an excessive amount of dirt or grime.

If, on the other hand, your oil is dark, grimy, and includes a lot of dirt, then you’ll need an oil change or oil filter replacement.

Summer driving can put a lot of wear and tear on your vehicle. Before you go on a long road trip, be sure to check your oil. It only takes a few minutes.

1) Change your air filter

Over the winter, your air filter may have become clogged with salt and other road debris. This poses a problem for summer driving.1

Replace your filter to increase mileage and improve efficiency. Air filters should be replaced approximately once every 12,000 miles (approximately 19,000km). You’ll want to replace it more frequently, however, if you drive on graveled roads or in dirty conditions.

Your air filter isn’t the most important part of your vehicle, but it’s one of many components that keeps your vehicle on the road.

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